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First Aid Tips

Information provided by Corri Miller-Hobbs, Registered Nurse and Safe Kids Virginia Program Coordinator

Be Prepared: How to Make Your Own First Aid Kit

Quick access to the right supplies can be helpful in an emergency and a well-stocked first aid kit ensures you're always prepared to provide care quickly. The key is keeping your family's supplies stored together – and well-organized – so you can easily find what you need at a moment's notice.

Recommended supplies for first aid kits

Pre-packaged first aid kits are available for purchase, but kits can also easily be assembled at home and the good news is that you likely have many of the needed supplies already on hand. The Red Cross recommends that a first aid kit for a family of four includes the following:

  • First aid instruction booklet
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 10 sterile gauze pads (3x3 and 4x4 inch sizes)
  • 2 absorbent compress pads (5 x 9 inch size)
  • 1 roll of adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch size)
  • 2 roller bandages (3 inch and 4 inch wide sizes)
  • 2 triangular bandages (used for a sling or wrapping injuries)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 breathing barrier (mouthpiece for administering CPR)
  • 1 instant cold pack
  • 2 pairs of non-latex gloves (size: large)
  • First aid blanket (helps retain body heat)
  • Thermometer
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Flashlight

Additional items to consider

Safety specialists at CHoR recommend including these additional items:

  • Extra prescription medications taken regularly by family members
  • Medications and supplies for a child's special health needs(acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen specific to child's age/weight with measuring device, EpiPen?, anti-seizure pills, extra suction catheters, backup tracheostomy tube, appropriate snacks for children with diabetes, etc.)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Additional instant cold packs
  • Tooth preservation kit (contains travel case and salt solution)
  • Aluminum finger splint
  • Prepackaged sterile eye pads/bandages
  • Concussion symptoms list

A list of emergency and contact numbers is also important to include. CHoR also has reference cards on the basics of first aid. Join our mailing list and request a first aid reference card.

Make it a special family project

Assembling kits is an activity that family members can do together, and this time together provides a great opportunity to talk with children about what to do in situations ranging from when to call 911 to how to care for a boo boo. Depending on a child's age and level of understanding, reviewing the first aid instruction booklet that's a recommended component of all first aid kits is a great way to do this.

More first aid kit tips

  • A plastic container such as tackle box or art supplies storage box makes a great container for a first aid kit. These types of containers are durable, lightweight and easy to open. They also have handles which can be helpful for quick transport.
  • Keep a kit in your home and one in each car. Also, make sure there are kits at the places your child spends a lot of time, such as a grandparent's house or babysitter's home, and be sure kits are on hand during sports games/practices, family trips, etc.
  • Store your kit in a place that is easy for adults to reach – but safely away from children. Also, keep the medications in your kit in their original containers and be sure they are secured for safety.
  • Select age-appropriate digital (not glass) thermometers. Infants under 3 months old need a rectal thermometer. For children 3 months to 3 years of age, use a rectal, ear or armpit thermometer. For children age 3 and older, use a mouth, ear or armpit thermometer.
  • Evaluate items on a six-month basis to be sure that creams, medications, etc., aren't expired or dried out, especially if your kit is stored in a car. You may also need to replace certain supplies based on your family members' ages and weights as what is needed for children often changes as they grow. Also check flashlight batteries regularly to be sure they work.

From life-saving emergency care to having what is needed for life's little emergencies, being prepared can make a huge difference for all involved. A first aid kit makes a great gift in so many ways for the loved ones in your life.

SAFETY REMINDER... Always Call 911 if a Child

  • Is having significant difficulty breathing, is not breathing or is turning blue
  • Has sudden unconsciousness or cannot be awakened
  • Is having a seizure
  • Has persistent severe bleeding from a wound
  • Is having an allergic reaction with a swollen tongue and difficulty breathing

More first aid instruction from the American Red Cross

Download the American Red Cross First Aid App

Resources: and

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